Mariachi meets orchestra for a sold-out performance at Boettcher Concert Hall
Colorado Symphony and MSU Denver’s Department of Music partner on a multicultural concert that celebrates traditional music from around the globe.
Metropolitan State University of Denver’s Department of Music is tuning up for what Lorenzo Trujillo, Ed.D., affiliate professor and co-founder of the mariachi program, describes as “a historical moment” for MSU Denver.
The Colorado Symphony and MSU Denver are hosting a side-by-side concert at Boettcher Concert Hall on May 4 that will feature a wide array of the University’s ensembles, with its mariachi, choir and symphony-orchestra ensembles at the forefront. The University’s gamelan and jazz ensembles will also be an integral part of the night’s program, with performances before the main show.
“Music transcends cultures,” said Trujillo, who facilitated the partnership.
The Colorado Symphony is known for its unique genre pairings that challenge people’s perceptions of orchestra music and attract new audiences. MSU Denver’s Department of Music also partners with the Latino Cultural Arts Center and the National Endowment for the Arts for mariachi programming.
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Trujillo will sing, along with Jeff Nevin, a national mariachi instructor, and Juventino Romero, the leader of Colorado’s renowned group Mariachi Sol de Mi Tierra. The night will consist of traditional Mexican pieces that have been reorchestrated for a full symphony, all hand-selected by Trujillo.
Of course, the night wouldn’t be complete without the talent of the student ensemble Mariachi de Los Correcaminos.
William Trevizo, one of the MSU Denver student soloists who will sing on the Boettcher stage, is a professional mariachi player with his dad’s band. The sophomore has been playing the violin since he was in high school, developing his skills by watching and listening. It took some time for him to fall in love with the art of mariachi before deciding to study music at MSU Denver after first pursuing paramedic school.
During his transition, he had more time to advance and play for his dad’s band — that’s when it all clicked for him.
“It was going to gigs and understanding the power, the music, our culture was bringing to people’s lives,” Trevizo said. “They laugh when they’re funny songs or they cry if it’s a wedding or a son dedicating a song to his mom or his dad during a show.
“But what we’re really doing isn’t just playing music; it’s delivering emotions and memories.”
Music student Bright Ansah is part of the mariachi, jazz and classical ensembles and also plays for the Trevizo family band, Mariachi Aguila. The sophomore, with Guinean and Ghanan roots, attests to music’s ability to transcend cultures. Ansah has been playing the trumpet since the fourth grade, starting off with classical until he was introduced to jazz in high school and eventually mariachi early in his college career.
Ansah talks about the difficulty, but also fun, of playing three genres. Although he was introduced to mariachi as a school requirement, he enjoyed it so much that he asked Trevizo’s dad if he could play for the band. Ansah said each genre allows him to explore different aspects of music that he enjoys.
“Jazz is very intricate and authentic — it lets me show more of me and my specific flair — and mariachi is just fun and emotional all around, plus you get to play loud, which is great being a trumpet player,” Ansah said.
He’s excited for the May 4 concert’s potential to help keep traditional genres such as classical and mariachi alive, as well as introduce them to new audiences. Ansah expressed the importance of experiencing new music in person.
“Listening to music on your phone and experiencing it live are two different things,” Ansah said. “You’re going to listen to songs you like daily, but when you truly listen to music in person for the first time, you gain a new respect for the music.”